Pike River re-entry a 'dangerous task' - Andrew Little

Entry into Pike River is expected by March 2019, after the Government announced plans to set up a Pike River Agency.

The agency will work with families to plan for a manned re-entry of the Pike River mine drift to determine if there are any human remains inside.

Minister Responsible for Pike River, Andrew Little, told The AM Show on Tuesday that entry to the mine would be a risky.

"We know this is a dangerous task," he says.

"The biggest risk, the reports tell me, isn't the gas in the mine, it's the potential for rock fall.

"You need to make sure that things are shored up and when people go in they're not going to have things tumbling down on them."

Labour and NZ First made a campaign commitment to re-enter the mine, something the families of the 29 men killed in the explosions have been campaigning for since the 2010 tragedy.

The previous Government investigated manned re-entry but decided it was too risky. It decided instead to use a robot, a plan that's now been scrapped.

Mr Little says than any manned attempt needs to take into account the danger inside the mine, to prevent further loss of life.

"All the hazards that have been identified, there have to be mitigating measures," he says.

"You can do a safe entry that does not eliminate every single risk or every single hazard. It's not about being risk free, it's about knowing what risks are there and managing those so when people go in they are safe."

The final decision on whether to enter the mine will be made by Mr Little, based on expert advice from the agency. He's already pushed back the entry time to Pike River, something he defended.

"The task is a big task," he says. "I reckon we'll have a plan by March, April next year."


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